5 Reasons Why Traveling Helps Your Mental Health

This summer, I decided to take a road trip (via air) from east coast to west coast.  Flying from the South to my hometown in Boston, MA to the sunny San Diego, and ending in Chicago.  I felt it necessary to take a step back, and explore.  With Bipolar 2 disorder spontaneous ideas can be frowned upon, which is understandable.  However, ridding myself of all my spontaneous characteristics is unreasonable.  In my travels, I feel refreshed.  It has lead me to wonder why traveling has this impact on us.  Here are 5 reasons why traveling helps your mental health.

You gain perspective.

We are each a single droplet in a huge ocean, and this is something you learn on the road.  To see people around you from different cultures, in different positions, and situations, it allows you to realize that in the end everything is going to be okay.

You learn more about yourself.

Through your interactions with other people, you may find out things about yourself that you never knew before.  There is an inner strength that is needed when you travel, especially on a solo adventure.  This maybe the key to making you feel good about yourself, and realizing you are stronger than you think.

It gives you a chance to breathe.

The pressure and stress of life that you may be facing are silenced when you travel.  It gives you a chance to reflect on your life, and breathe.  Take a step back from social media, and live in the moment.

You feed off others energy.

You meet people on spontaneous adventures, and create unique connections with others.  When you are down in the dumps, there is nothing better than feeding off the energy of other people.

Its a confidence booster.

Traveling encourages you to be self-efficient and independent.  You create memories that are interesting, and that add excitement to your life.  Traveling is a great way to turn your dull attitude into a fabulous one.

9 traveling quotes…

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Then & Now: A story about friendship, facing the past and mental illness

It was six years ago that I had my first major episode with Bipolar 2 while in College.  I was  living with a group of girls who this story is about. In the last month before I withdrew from school, I kept my struggle hidden from others, especially myself.  Two days before I left, my parents were called by 2 of my friends.  They told them that I was falling apart.  Day by day I was getting worse.  They realized they couldn’t help me, and decided not to tell the other girls.  I do not like to talk about the pain of the past.  However, a few days ago I learned that sometimes it is necessary to walk down memory lane, no matter how dark the road is…

This past weekend, I reconnected with friends who I hadn’t seen since the day I withdrew from school.  Jenny, one of my best friends, planned the weekend.  When we arrived to the house, we poured a cocktail, and sat outside. After an hour of blabbing, I heard little footsteps behind me.  When I turned, my heart dropped.  Sophie was walking towards me.  Sophie and I were inseparable during my time in Boston.  I hadn’t seen her since the day I left school.  When I saw her I could have dropped to my knees.  We all sat outside.  It was just like it used to be.  We reminisced about our lives over the last six years.  It was magical.  We laughed, we loved, we danced.  However, I knew at some point I was going to have to confront what happened six years ago.  On the second night we walked outside to sit on the patio.  We pulled out a bottle of wine, a pack full of cigarettes and started to talk…

I let them lead the conversation (this is very rare).  Sophie revealed to me her confusion over the last six years.   As I saw her crumble in tears, I realized that it was not only me that needed closure, it was her.  It was all of my friends. The day I had left, I closed that chapter, and refused to finish it.  I had given them no explanation for my emotional episodes or distant behavior.  I smiled as they walked out the door, and when they came back, I was gone.

Sophie looked towards me for some sort of reaction, and explained what she remembered about the day I left…

I was walking back from class.  Someone called out to me and said, “Somethings going on with Hannah.  She is outside of the health center crying and screaming about how she can’t take it anymore.  She doesn’t want to live.”  I couldn’t believe it.  I kept walking, and then you were just gone, and I never knew what happened…

I have no recollection of this time.

You don’t remember Hannah?  Jenny asked.

No.  I don’t.

I sat there in disbelief.  It was the first time in years I had to confront the darkest time of my life.  With tears in her eyes Sophie asked me the question I had been dreading for 6 years.  I revealed to her what happened and why it occurred.

Please tell me what happened?

I told her the details of what happened that day.  I am still hesitant to share this part of my story publicly.  She cried so hard I thought she would break.  We all sat there in silence. The next day we woke up in one bed with smiles ear to ear.  When we all separated, we hugged each other longer than we ever had.

Six years ago I met a group of girls, who, little did I know, would save me from myself.  People who loved me so much they were willing to take the leap with me.  They had to look at an empty room not knowing if the person they used to see dancing would ever be the same again.  It built a strength in all of us, and an unbreakable bond.  No matter the distance, we have a story unlike any other.  We had no idea what we were doing or who we would become in the future.  All we knew is that we loved each other, and one of us was slowly withering away.  We are not friends, we are soulmates.  This past weekend I realized that reflecting on our struggle is not something to be feared.  It is an epic part of our story, and deserves to be shared.  It is no longer my story, it is our story.  A story about friendship, strength and genuine love.

To Jenny, Sophie, Michelle, Kim, Cayla, Alex, Katie, Cody & Kara.  Thank you for never giving up on me, always supporting me and loving me endlessly.  I would not be here without you.

It is important for those of us who have struggled with our mental health to understand that we are not the only ones hurting in these situations.  The people around us suffer, and have their own story that deserves to be heard.  If you have a friend who is struggling with their mental health.  Please look to my H2H Support Page or H2H Resource Page!  Don’t give up on those you love.





10 Things We Need To Teach Our Little Sisters

 “You can’t be beautiful without makeup aunty Hannah!”-My 4-year-old niece

There has always been pressure on women to be “perfect,” however, the age of girls who feel this pressure seems to get lower each year.  It is not only the physical appearance factor, but all the s*&t going on in society that a younger generation should be aware of. You do not have to have a little sister to read this post.  “Our younger sisters” means the girls growing up in the generation below us.  We are all family in my mind.  It is time for us to grab a juice box, sit at the lunch table and help them comprehend a few things for their future.   These are 10 Things We Need To Teach Our Little Sisters…

1.  You don’t need plastic to be beautiful.

The age of young girls getting lip injections, plastic surgery and spending hours in the mirror putting on make-up is getting younger each year.  We need to teach them that reaching your “peak of attractiveness” at 15 is not a good idea!  To enjoy the time they can get away being carefree.

2.  Beware of the online trolls.

It is so important that girls understand that a lot of people have fake online profiles, and that the internet can be deceiving.  Face-to-face communication is proven to be the most successful way to build a solid relationship, and not get locked in a basement.  MTV’s “reality” show Catfish has definitely made me think twice before entering into a flirty online conversation.

3.  Embrace the body you have, not the body you want.

Luckily in 2016, women of all sizes are embraced more so than before.  Showing images of women of all different shapes and sizes gives younger girls a more diverse, and realistic, image of body.  We are not all going to have perfectly manufactured bodies, and acknowledging that from a young age is important.  Healthy=Happy.

4.  Spread love to stop hate.

Hate is alive in our society, and this is something the younger generation has to be aware of.  It is vital they be a part of peaceful movements.  To accept those who live a different lifestyle, rather than reject them.  To help others in need, and encourage those around them to stand against hate.

 5.  There is only one type of shopping…Bargain shopping!

Why get Jimmy Choo’s for $900 when you can get them for $45?  We have learned that LABELS are EVERYTHING.  However, lucky for our generation consignment shopping has opened are eyes up to a world of possibility.  It is time we share the secret to getting what we you want without spending all you got!

6.  To physically put down social media.

Social media is everywhere, and it is hard to handle at any age.  It is so important that young girls understand that social media is a tool to be used sporadically, not obsessively.  That when you are sitting at a table with people, put the phone away!  Comparing themselves to fabricated images of others will do more harm than good.

 7.  To express their emotions.

As a mental health advocate this is a big one for me!  We need to teach girls that emotions are a good thing, and it is okay to fail.  There is help available, and for a good reason.  The pressure on all women to be perfect increases negative emotions and insecurities.  We need to teach a younger generation to be open and honest about their feelings.

9.  To be leaders, not followers.

It seems that following on Instagram is leading to following in life.  Yikes!  The social media phenomenon encourages girls to mimic the behaviors and style of whatever is “trending.”  We need to help them find their own passions and power.  All women have power, but there is nothing more fierce than a women who knows she does!

10. To fall in love, but be independent.

We are so reliant on other people to make us feel secure, and this is not a good type of dependency.  With all the opportunity we have as women, we should encourage a younger generation to strive for success.  To fall in love but ask themselves first…What am I going to do to make an impact on this world?  VS.  When is he going to ask me to marry him?